The Minister for Health has announced his intention to ban cigarette vending machines across Ireland.
Simon Harris, speaking on Monday, said he is in favour of the move due to children under 18 being able to buy cigarettes from vending machines easily, and the impact smoking is having on public health.
“It’s my intention to ban cigarettes vending machines and e-cigarettes to under 18s,” Mr Harris said.
“I don’t think it’s that controversial at all, tobacco kills you, it’s really bad for you, it causes cancer, we have a policy called Tobacco Free Ireland, the leader of the opposition (Micheal Martin) did really good work when he was minister for health in that regard and I want to continue to build on that work as successive health ministers have.”
When asked how he would tackle the tobacco lobbyists who are likely to have major objections to the move, Mr Harris said he was prepared and felt that public opinion would be on his side.
He said: “I’ve shown an appetite to take on vested interests in the interest of public health, people told me I wouldn’t pass the Public Health Alcohol Act, it may have taken 1,000 days but we did, so I’m absolutely determined.
“Tobacco is killing people, it is causing misery to many families saying goodbye to loved ones early, and it’s also having a huge impact on our economy, so I don’t think moves to make cigarettes less available and less visible are controversial so I would hope there is as big a lobby in favour of banning this.”
The announcement was made after a question about vaping following six vaping-related deaths in America, and what Mr Harris’ department was doing in relation to the issue.
HE said: “I’m extremely concerned about the number of children starting to vape and the disingenuous way companies target children, with the different colours, flavours and the like.
“We know vaping is dangerous and I intend to ban it for children under 18, and I’ll be bringing legislation on that before cabinet in the next two or three weeks.
“I also expect to bring in a ban of selling cigarettes in vending machines in that same piece of legislation.”
Mr Harris was speaking in Rialto after he announced 20 million euro in funding for 122 Slaintecare projects.
Over 477 projects applied for the Integration Fund and 122 projects from across the country were successful, ranging from hospitals, community health organisations, voluntary organisations, universities and Primary Care Centres.
The funding is part of the department’s move to develop community-based approach to healthcare, part of the Slaintecare plan to overhaul the HSE.
The goal, according to the Department of Health, is to shift the majority of care to the community, which they say would reducing waiting lists and improve experiences for patients and staff across the health and social care system in Ireland.